Male Stereotype Number 21: Men Like Guns
Michael Moore’s award-winning 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine convinced me that there was and is a gun control problem in America. It helped that I was in middle school when the Columbine shooting occurred and that violent threats were made to my school that left me scared shitless — but in truth, even though I had a BB gun as a kid and loved archery and shoot-’em-up games, I never connected my masculinity to my relationship to firearms.
The unfortunate reality is that manhood is closely linked to not only gun ownership but also gun violence in the United States. Of all mass shooting incidents occurring since 1982, only about 3 percent were perpetrated by women. Moreover, an independent study from 2016 determined that men were killed by guns at a rate six times higher than women. Thus, men make up the vast majority of both perpetrators and victims of gun violence (including suicides and accidental shootings). Another way to put it is that if all men were to simply disappear, the United States would not have a gun problem. Of course, the solution is not to ban all men or even all guns.
I can already hear an NRA spokesman in my head arguing that regulation is unnecessary because guns themselves are not to blame for shooting deaths, which is a lot like saying we shouldn’t have seatbelts, airbags, or anti-lock brakes because people — not automobiles — cause accidents. But I am reluctant to add yet another voice to a tired, stale debate that should have ended long ago based on facts. “Thoughts and prayers” are not an adequate substitute for fact-based solutions.
Love for guns among men seems to follow the same pattern as (hopeless) romantic love or pet love: no matter what anyone says about the object of their love — no matter how true — gun lovers will go on loving their inanimate objects the way dog lovers love their dogs or helicopter parents love their children. There is just no changing their minds based on empirical evidence. And I am not only talking about stereotypical (rural, conservative) gun owners: even some city-dwelling liberals are blinded by ideology on the subject. The male gun obsession crosses race, class, and geographical lines. In fact, a major reason for the (male-dominated) Black Panther Party’s demise was due to the leadership’s insistence on revolutionary violence (by way of firearm) despite the larger black community’s lack of interest in such a tactic and the resultant backlash (by way of firearm) from white law enforcement.
In case I haven’t made myself clear enough, I am not a fan of male gun ownership because guns, even when brandished in support of noble causes like revolution and personal safety, tend to become an instrument for doing what (stereotypical) men do best: wield power over others. A gun is the ultimate tool for domination. It can make a weak man strong, and a strong man much stronger. A gun can turn a pimple-faced teenager into a killing machine.
Let’s end the gun obsession. Our lives depend on it.
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